Many porphyry copper deposits are associated with granitoid plutons. Porphyry copper deposit genesis is commonly attributed to degassing of pluton-forming intermediate to silicic magma chambers during slow cooling and crystallization. We use numerical simulations of thermal evolution during pluton growth to investigate the links between pluton construction, magma accumulation and solidification, volatile release, and porphyry copper deposit formation. The Jurassic Yerington batholith, Nevada, serves as a case study because of its exceptional exposure, revealing the geometry of three main intrusions. The last intrusion, the Luhr Hill granite, is associated with economic porphyry copper deposits localized over cupolas where dikes and fluid flow were focused. Our simulations for the conceptual model linking porphyry copper deposits with the presence of large, highly molten magma chambers show that the Luhr Hill granite must have been emplaced at a vertical thickening rate of several cm/yr or more. This magma emplacement rate is much higher than the time-averaged formation rates of other batholiths reported in the literature. Such low rates, although common, do not lead to magma accumulation and might be one of the reasons why many granitoid plutons are barren. Based on our results, we formulate the new testable hypothesis of a link between porphyry copper deposit formation and the emplacement time scale of the associated magma intrusion.

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